Saturday, January 2, 2010

Keeping New Teachers in Mind

Johnson, S.M., Kardos, S.M. (2002). Keeping new teachers in mind. Educational Leadership, 59 (6).

Summary: This article reports the results of the first phase of a five-year study of 50 new Massachusetts teachers conducted by the Project on the Next Generation of Teachers at the Harvard School of Education. Their research showed that new teachers often do not get the support they need--ongoing and relevant school-based professional development with structures that allow new teachers to access support from veteran teachers. The researchers identified three types of professional cultures in schools. The first is the veteran-oriented professional culture, where “the modes and norms of professional practice are determined by and aimed to serve veteran faculty members.” The second type is a novice-oriented professional culture, which is often found at school sites with a majority of new teachers. This type of culture is characterized by a great deal of energy and commitment, but very little professional guidance and support for new teachers.

The third professional culture was the integrated professional culture, which is characterized by “ongoing professional exchange across experience levels and sustained support and development for all teachers.” Thus, both new and veteran teachers receive support and benefit from the regular collaboration and exchange. New teachers in this type of professional culture reported feeling better supported so that they, in turn, could better serve their students. The initial results from this phase of the study also showed higher rates of teacher retention. To ensure the success of such a professional culture, the researchers stressed the importance of structures that allow for regular collaboration, timely and supportive responses for teachers’ daily challenges, principals who are engaged in the professional work of the teachers, and strong teacher leaders.

Evaluation and Reflection: The researchers used qualitative data obtained from interviews with 50 first- and second-year teachers in Massachusetts. They report results from the initial phase of the study as well as preliminary results from the second phase. I plan to follow up to find the final results of the complete study.

I believe that High Tech High has an integrated professional culture. However, I believe that there are some ways in which we can improve our support for new teachers, which is why I chose my research topic. Based on my experience working at HTH, I suspect that we can do a better job matching mentors with new teachers, training mentors, and providing the time for mentors to work with their mentees. (Many of these improvements are underway.) The result of this research, along with my own knowledge of the professional culture of HTH, will allow me to better design the teacher survey so that it yields the most relevant and useful results.

No comments:

Post a Comment